Don’t be daunted by that diva demeanour – Friday’s very own chef Silvena Rowe is happy to answer all your kitchen queries
Q Please share your favourite vegetarian recipe. I need some inspiration as I have only about five recipes in my repertoire.
A Polenta with cavolo nero and Gorgonzola dolce cream sauce is one of my favourite vegetarian meals. I ate it for the first time in a famous Italian restaurant in London and loved it so much that I pestered the chef to share the recipe with me. I hope you enjoy it as well. 100g Gorgonzola dolce 50ml double cream 450g fresh cavolo nero (a leafy vegetable similar to spinach and cabbage but with a stronger taste), washed and cut into small pieces 2 cloves garlic, sliced finely olive oil, for frying 350ml water or vegetable stock 100g dry instant polenta knob of butter 25g Parmesan cheese shavings
To prepare the Gorgonzola dolce sauce, melt the cheese in a small pan, but be careful it doesn’t reach boiling point. Add the cream and keep warm.
Blanch the cavolo nero in some boiling water until soft, then drain well.
Soften the garlic in a little olive oil in a large pan, then add cavolo nero and cook for about three minutes.
Drain and purée the cavolo nero and keep warm.
To prepare the polenta, bring the water or stock to a boil. Add the polenta and reduce heat to low, stirring constantly, the polenta will thicken while cooking.
Because you are using instant polenta, the cooking process is very quick – about three to four minutes. Add some butter and season well.
While the polenta is still hot, add the cavolo nero purée. Serve while hot after drizzling Gorgonzola dolce sauce on top and adding some Parmesan shavings.
Note: The consistency of the polenta should be pourable. If you find that it is too thick, add some more hot water while it is cooking to thin it out.
Keeping the skin on, marinating and poaching are key to keeping a chicken juicy on the grill
Q How can I make grilled chicken like they do at my favourite fast-food chain? Whenever I try I always end up with a dry bird that’s almost inedible.
A Here are two foolproof methods that will guarantee you succulent chicken every time. I never eat at fast-food joints and you might find when you try these out at home, you won’t either.
I’d like to stress the importance of choosing a good-quality fresh chicken, preferably free range or corn fed, as the meat will be much softer and juicier than the frozen or other varieties.
My first method is to poach the chicken before grilling. Be sure to keep the skin on and poach it in a little water until slightly tender, then season with salt and pepper and place it under a hot grill or on a barbecue.
Poaching locks in the juices and the meat remains succulent. Make sure you don’t over-grill the chicken as that can dry it out.
To know if the chicken is done, prick it at the thigh and if the juices come out clear, it means it is cooked. Let it rest for about five minutes to allow the juices to settle in before serving.
The other method is to marinate the chicken before grilling. Be sure to keep the skin on while marinating and grilling, even if you remove it when you are done.